Advocacy in Action - July 2017

Advocacy ,

The new fiscal year for Wisconsin began on July 1st but without a new state budget. State agencies will continue to be funded at the current levels as political pressure builds to pass a new two-year budget.

Disagreement on Transportation funding continues to be the impediment to reaching a final budget deal. While negotiations have been occurring behind closed doors, all sides have from time to time floated ideas publicly. The dialogue between the Governor, the Senate Majority Leader and the Assembly Speaker continue even though the rhetoric gets heated at times.

Governor Walker sent a letter yesterday to Majority Leader Fitzgerald and Speaker Vos. In the letter Walker suggests reducing Transportation bonding by $200 million by using an improved Transportation fund balance. He also proposes contingency bonding for the Southeast Freeway Mega-Projects Program. This bonding would be linked to additional federal funding for mega projects. As of this writing, there has been no legislative reaction.

In the letter to legislators Governor Walker reiterated his desire to pass a Transportation budget that does not include a gas tax or vehicle fee increase. This comes on the heels of speculation days earlier that a new fee on heavy trucks over 59,000 pounds could lead to a Transportation deal. When news of the fee on heavy trucks was made public five GOP Senators publicly opposed it seemingly killing it in the Senate. Groups including WMC and The Motor Carriers Association also strongly opposed the fee increase.

Additional ideas will likely be introduced and debated in the days ahead as the legislature reacts to the latest position of the Governor.